Miles Today: 26
Miles to Date: 4,039
States to Date: 18
My three days of R&R have included long visits with family, interviews with Medicine Man Denver marijuana dispensary, Collier Hospice Center, and EcoTech Institute, Renewable Energy College, as well a three evenings of book promotion for Architecture by Moonlight. It has been great fun but will end tomorrow with a bang when I attempt the most challenging ride of my trip: 96 miles from Denver to Copper Mountain, over Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide – 9,600 feet of vertical rise!
When I arrive at Copper Mountain I will be in severe need of a shower, and judging from my experience to date, I’ll encounter a huge variety of soap. Over the past ten weeks I’ve stayed in more than forty different households. They have all been generous and thoughtful. But they also have one other unifying characteristic – a dizzying array of liquid soap.
When did the bar of soap become an artifact? What is in all of these bottles of gel and foam that a simple bar cannot deliver? To be sure, a few homes still have bars of soap, in addition to their bath gel and body wash and hand sanitizer. But nobody only has soap, and many people have no hard soap at all. Even people who compost every scrap of food, recycle every bit of packaging and reject any form of fossil fuel transport have shower stalls littered with plastic bottles of odd colored liquid.
I carry a bar of soap. It’s compact, and portable. When I scrub myself, the friction makes me feel clean. I use it until it’s gone; I don’t lose that extra 20% of product that never shakes out of the container.
Now that I am aware of the liquid soap phenomenon, I realize that bars have become bottom shelf grocery store items. The liquid stuff, which surely has a higher profit margin and more adverse environmental impact, is easier to reach. When my bar runs out I am going to get another plain bar of soap. It will keep me clean. And when I have to bend low to reach it at the grocery, I’ll consider it yoga.
Send me good energy as I climb, climb, climb to the other side of America. I’ll clean up as soon as I get to the other side.